Monday, May 2, 2005

Eudora Cocoa

Qualcomm (via MacNN):

We are excited about the new technologies in Mac OSX Tiger [sic], including SpotLight [sic] and WebKit HTML display/authoring. We are currently reworking Eudora to take advantage of these technologies, as well as converting it from Carbon to Cocoa, to take advantage of Cocoa’s status as Apple’s preferred environment.

Wow. It sounds like a lot of work, and fall 2005 isn’t that far away, so they must have been working on this for a while. Who would have thought that Eudora, Fetch, and Nisus Writer would get rewritten? Will the new version feel like the old Eudora? Should it?

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Interesting. One of the reasons I switched from my beloved Eudora (besides that damn subscription model they operate on) was the relative lack of development. Back in the 10.1-10.2 days, it just didn't look like Qualcomm really gave a crap about Eudora. Looks like I was wrong.

I've since settled on Mailsmith and am really happy about its feature set, though I wish I could get some of Eudora's behavior back, not to mention its performance.

Nisus Writer didn't get "rewritten" in Cocoa. They bought another existing Cocoa program (Okito Composer) and renamed it Nisus Writer Express.

Matt: I don't see much distinction there. Do you not want to call it a rewrite because some of the code came from outside Nisus? Or because Express is somewhat of a redesign, not a superset of the old Nisus Writer?

What about Transmit? Is that just "renamed" since Panic replaced its homegrown FTP engine with NcFTP?

Michael McCracken

I'm very curious about this - I've always felt that Eudora was so much more powerful than Apple's Mail, but a few things kept me away, while I'd gladly pay for the extra power if the old-style UI is updated, and it integrates nicely with the OS X Address Book.

It'll be interesting to see if they say anything about how they did the rewrite. I would expect that much of the code for the features that make eudora eudora wouldn't have to change. The real distinction is behind the GUI layer, I'd say.

I wonder if it ends up just being a Cocoa-bindings success story.

Michael: How can you not see the distinction? There were two programs: Program A and Program B. The makers of Program A purchased Program B and renamed it "Program A."

They didn't replace part of Program A with new code, and they didn't take Program B's code and merge it into Program A. They scrapped Program A and rewrote some of its features anew inside Program B, because Program B didn't have them before.

How could that possibly be considered "rewriting Program A?"

Matt: As I see it, Nisus used Composer as a foundation. They added some of their old code (perhaps Power Find) and added lots of new code to make it more like Nisus Writer. It matters little to me whether the foundation was written by Charles before or after he was hired by Nisus; had they hired him first, the code would have ended up much the same.

It's similar to how Netscape was rewritten. They kept some pieces of code, but used a whole new architecture.

By "rewrite," I mean writing a new set of code to implement similar behavior, as seen by the user. It's "rewriting Program A" because the end result is something that works like A, but is different under the hood. (Merely adding code to A wouldn't constitute a rewrite.) To me, renaming would be if they bought B, and called it A, but it didn't end up resembling the old A.

So, which is OS X? :-)

While it's exciting to hear that there is further investment in Eudora for Mac OS X, I hope QUALCOMM is appropriately cautious about changing the user interface too dramatically. Cleaning up the UI elements to use the Cocoa look-and-feel is one thing, but making changes to look like all the other email clients would be a mistake, IMHO.

More details in a post on my own weblog (Michael, have you considered enabling Trackbacks? Or did the WordPress 1.5 Trackback bug not ping this post?)

Alderete: Please feel free to post links. I disabled trackbacks because I got more spam ones than real ones. I'm a few versions behind on WordPress.

Eudora doesn't, doesn't, DOESN'T have a subscription model. I've been using Eudora 5.2 paid-for for years, and it's never asked me for more money.

What is the case is that certain of the point upgrades aren't free. Going from 5.x to 6.x costs money, which pertains for pretty much everyone from a certain fruit-named computer company on down.

I haven't upgraded to 6.x because none of the features has been compelling. To be honest, I'm not sure what shifting to Cocoa would add to the game. Faster? Eudora's already damn fast.

My only quibble with 5.x is that I can't connect to Gmail through it, no matter how many SSL settings and x-eudora-settings I tweak. So I use Mail 2.0 for that. Comparative CPU use: Eudora 0.0%; Mail - don't know, it's got into a habit of crashing on open. Grr.

..ok, to add to the comment above: Mail's now running (had to recreate entire Gmail account..).

Top says: Eudora (with 12 windows open): 0%. Mail (1 window open): 5.1%, not checking mail.

And Qualcomm want to rewrite Eudora in Cocoa why, exactly?

Ok, so Eudora isn't really sold on a subscription model. I just remember around the 10.0-10.1 days Eudora was really quick to get on OS X (minus SSL support, which was available in 9). I bought a year's worth of support and got 1 piddly update. About 2 months after my year ran out, Qualcomm added SSL back to Eudora and had the balls to want to charge me for it. That's close enough to a subscription model for me not to like it.

To their credit, after I complained to them, they did extend my license for a couple of months so the update including SSL was free for me.

As far as interface and speed, I always liked it. I'm not a big fan of the 3 pane or even 2 pane + mailbox list interface. Give me a bunch of individual windows with Eudora's navigation any day.

I think my perfect email client would be if Mailsmith were a bit more Eudora-like. Yummy.

Fetch 5 is now out and, although it looks like there's some Cocoa in it, it seems to be primarily a nib-based Carbon application.

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